Lockheed Makes F-16 Fighter Jet Bid More Attractive
To further strengthen the fighter jet deal with Indian Air Force, American aerospace major, Lockheed Martin, has offered to provide latest combat jet technologies including a target tracking device aboard the F-16 aircraft to India. Advanced radar fitted on their fifth-generation F-35 combat jets will be offered on the F-16 jets for India. The bid is in addition to Lockheed’s earlier offer to shift its lone production line for F-16s from Fort Worth, Texas in the U.S. to India exclusively to produce F-16 Block 70. The F-16 fighter bid is considered one of the world’s largest orders from the Indian Air Force.
Vivek Lall, vice president for strategy and business development at Lockheed Martin, has said that the company will offer jets equipped with the advanced radar which is fitted on the F-35, as well as a helmet-mounted tracking system and a new radio data link system. “There are a lot of technologies that come into the F-16 from F-35 and F-22, including the latest radar on these platforms. It is a contemporary, state-of-the-art platform,” he said in an interview reported by Bloomberg.
India is seeking proposals for a total 110 aircrafts, totalling a reported minimum of US$15 billion as part of modernising its defence forces. Getting state-of-the-art fighters is crucial for India in the wake rising risks from neighbouring Pakistan and China, especially at a time when India’s mainstay Russian MiG jet is being phased out. Lockheed sees huge potential for the company’s business in India, plans for which dovetail with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Made in India” campaign.
“Lockheed Martin has received the request for information from India for the F-16s to meet its air force requirement. We already see a global rise in the demand for F-16 from the 25 air forces around the world that already fly them. This export potential for the F-16s could be met through the exclusive production line we propose to put up in India,” Lall said.